Getting a new puppy can be a wondrous and joyous experience, but it can also be stressful.
Puppies are messy and destructive, and it might seem like your new dog pees in the house on purpose despite how much you’ve tried to train it.
Have you ever got to the point where you wondered in exasperation, “My dog is 6 months old and not potty trained… Will this carry on forever?”
It sure can get frustrating… argh! Again!
But don’t despair- Follow these tips, and you’ll have a housebroken dog in no time.
Many dog owners panic the first time their puppy has an accident indoors. Especially if you’ve adopted an older dog, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to make sure it’s completely toilet trained.
At six months old, a puppy is still young and easy enough to teach.
There are several things you can do to train your dog.
By monitoring your dog carefully, keeping regular feeding and toilet schedules, using a lot of praise and positive reinforcement (“go potty!), and utilizing crate training, you’ll be able to get a half a year old puppy up to speed fairly quickly!
The more time you spend training your puppy, the faster it will be house trained.
If, after a month or two of concentrated training, your dog is still having accidents in the house or in the middle of the night, consider signing up for a puppy training course. Professionals with experience might make all the difference.
Puppies tend to show signs that they need to go to the bathroom right away, even if you haven’t trained them yet to alert you.
This is an underrated house-training technique, as learning to understand your puppy’s body language signals will make training that much easier and more effective.
You just have to know the signs to look out for, which may include:
● Sniffing: Your dog is looking for the perfect place to pee in your living room.
● Circling: Your dog has found the perfect place and is preparing to go.
● Stiff back legs and tail up in the air: Get it outside, stat!
When you notice these signs, interrupt her with a quick “Outside.”
Especially if your puppy is out of her crate, don’t take your eyes off of her. Puppies are mischievous and known for getting into things (and places!) that they shouldn’t.
Dogs are creatures of routine. They react best when the same things happen at the same time every day. Get them used to a routine, and soon it will be the one telling you that it needs to go out for a potty break!
When you first begin house training your dog at 8 weeks old, vets recommend going outside or to their training pads with your puppy for a potty break every hour. If you’re at work during the day, arrange for a dog walker to come while you’re away.
It’s also essential to take the puppy outside in the morning after they wake up and after drinking or eating. Yes, this takes a lot of persistence and a lot of patience, but it really does pay off in the end.
Another great routine is to use the same part of the yard for potty breaks if you are training them to go outside to toilet exclusively. Use the same phrase every time, like “Go potty” and don’t continue your walk or playtime until they’ve had a pee or poop.
If your puppy does not poop (even after they had ate), they could be suffering from gastrointestinal problems or other medical issues which you will need to investigate.
What goes in must come out.
If you keep your puppy on a strict feeding and drinking schedule, it will be easier to predict when it will need to relieve herself. Young puppies should eat three to four times a day, and will need to go outside for a potty break after each meal and usually every hour. As they age, you won’t need to feed them as often.
About two and a half hours before bedtime, put the water bowl out of reach. Restricting access to food and water at night will help to minimize the possibility of a night-time accident.
Just remember to put the bowl back down in the morning, as it’s always a good idea to leave water out for your puppy all throughout the day.
Puppies respond well to rewards- especially treats, toys and affection. When your puppy pees outside on command during potty break, don’t forget to reward it well. Bring her favorite treats along when you go for walks, and shower her with praise.
Another great way to reward your pup is with playtime. Your puppy loves playing with you – use that to your advantage.
Don’t jump the gun with your rewards. Make sure your puppy has completely finished before you praise her. She might get distracted, forget what the praise is for and later pee inside the house.
If you catch your dog in the act of going to the bathroom indoors, say “No” clearly, and try to get her outside if possible. However, if you discover evidence after the fact, it’s too late to deal out punishment.
Dogs do not understand cause and effect. If you rub a dog’s face in their pee and say “bad dog,” he will learn not to rub his face in pee. Your dog will not connect the wet spot with himself, even if it happened only minutes ago.
Yelling at your dog for something he can’t comprehend will only make him afraid of you, which can cause more accidents due to fear and anxiety.
Thoroughly clean any accidents. As creatures of routine, dogs like to go in the same place. If you use an odor-removing cleaner, your dog will be less likely to return to the back corner of your closet to pee.
Crating is one of the best tools for training your dog, whether for potty training or for getting it ready for increased freedom around the house.
Although it may seem cruel to keep your dog in a crate, for many dogs, their crate becomes their ‘bedroom’ or safe space.
Using a crate also speeds up training dramatically. If the crate is the right size, your dog will not want to soil it since it considers the crate its den and and will wait until you get home and bring it outside.
Crates are great when you’re busy and can’t keep an eagle eye on your pup. However, they aren’t meant to be used for entire days.
Never leave a dog younger than six months in a crate for more than three or four hours at a time, and ideally for less than that. Before it’s toilet trained, let it out every two hours- or it will be unable to hold its pee when it needs to go- resulting in an accident.
After you’ve fully crate trained your dog, you can begin to leave it alone outside the crate, but in a closed-off area or playpen. Eventually, she will use the crate as a retreat whenever she wants to sleep or needs a quiet space.
If your puppy is still having accidents in the house, contact your vet. Once he’s ruled out medical issues such as urinary tract infection or bladder inflammation, try bringing your dog to a professional trainer.
There are many options for trainers. Some will work with both you and the puppy to solve the issues.
Through this method, you will learn more about training your dog, and your dog will remain responsive to you. For 6 month old puppies, this is a good option. However, do understand that dog training takes time and commitment.
The other option is to send your puppy away to a residential training school. Especially for older or abused dogs, residential training schools are an excellent way for your dog to receive intensive training. The only problem is that you and your pup will be separated.
For some dog owners, separation from their beloved dog is too much to bear. For others, the quality of training at a residential training school is precisely what they need. Research training programs, talk to your vet and local dog owners and make the best choice for you and your pup.
Don’t worry too much if your dog is now half a year old and not trained to go outside to potty yet!
Though it may seem like he is lagging behind in progress, each dog learns at its own pace. With the right teaching and training, while it may take a bit longer, it will get there in due time.
So, don’t feel frustrated or pressured, and don’t feel like you’re running out of time. Because truly, you’re not! Who’s to say what exact time puppies must be toilet trained anyway?
However, to speed along the process of successful potty training, there are definitely a few things that you can do. These include:
- Staying vigilant to the signs that your dogs are giving you
- Keeping consistent schedules and taking it out frequently for a potty break
- Praising profusely and refraining from punishment
- Utilizing crate training
- Seeking professional training when required.
If you follow all of these tips to potty train your pup, you are simply guaranteed to succeed.
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.